Press Statement
by DAP Political Education Director and DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) National Secretary, Hew Kuan Yau
in Petaling Jaya
on Monday, 22nd April 2002

Public whipping/ stoning to death - retrogressive as it pushes society back towards a feudal mentality

DAP views with serious concern the proposal by Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim to implement public whipping for rapists and those guilty of committing incest and the counter proposal by PAS to enforce stoning to death in public for such offenders. DAP pledges our full support for any effort to prevent increasing cases of rape and incest, including implementation of heavier punishments for rapists and those committing incest. Stiffer punishments can be in the form of heavier jail sentences, including compulsory compensation for the victims or other appropriate penalties. 

However, implementing public whipping or stoning to death is retrogressive as it pushes society back towards a feudal mentality and is a step in the direction of implementing Islamic law and punishment in Malaysia. DAP is concerned that this could turn out to be yet another battle between UMNO and PAS to out-Islam each other and prove which of them has greater Islamic credentials. Undeniably, such a development will have serious repercussions on Malaysia in terms of its legal and constitutional aspects. This sort of punishments is not acceptable in any modern society as it is inhumane and not practiced in any democratic country. 

We fully agree that rape and incest are despicable acts that should be strongly condemned and those who commit such offences must be brought to justice and be punished. However, no matter how severe the sentences are, the problem would not be solved if the root causes are not addressed. In this respect, the government must immediately engage experts such as sociologists, psychologists, and women rights activists who have experience in dealing with victims as well as legal experts to study the root causes of such crimes and submit a well-researched proposal to the government on the appropriate course of action. 

We believe that besides punishment, a society with strong moral values is the best solution to this kind of immoral acts. The question is: How are we going to instill these values in our society, especially our younger generations? The government should realize by now that to build a progressive and healthy society, a more balanced approach for development must be taken. It is a recognized fact that these problems happen mainly among the lower income-groups that are mostly uneducated. For one, the disparity in our socio-economic development is to be blamed for the emergence of these social ills. 

DAP would like to remind NGOs like ABIM and other groups who have pledged support for the said proposal so as not to jump to conclusions without an in-depth understanding and study of the problem. We reiterate our objection to the proposal of public whipping or any other archaic Taliban-styled punishment and urge the government to fully and thoroughly study all aspects of the legislation in order to come out with the best way to overcome the problem. DAP will give our full support in the war against rape and incest and we call on the government to initiate an all-party round table conference to discuss and debate the best possible solutions to this problem.